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A list of essential computer science skills

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
Read more about our editorial process.

Reviewed by Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

This article was updated on December 13, 2023.

When applying for a job, one of the most important messages you want to communicate is your skill set. Developing desirable skills can help you stand out, especially in competitive industries like IT.

It may seem obvious that hard skills acquired through a degree are the most important factor of a strong job candidate. However, according to Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter, 93% of employers say soft skills play a key role in making a hiring decision. This means it’s important to highlight on your resumé a well-rounded set of skills.

However, knowing which mix of hard and soft skills to include can be tough. Do you emphasize the hard skills and include a few soft skills? Do you give equal balance to both? To better understand which approach is most likely to work, we’ll explore which hard and soft skills are essential within the computer science industry today, and we’ll look at why employers may be looking for applicants with these skills.

Earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree.

Hard skills in computer science

Careers in computer science rely on technical knowledge, which is also known as hard skills. These skills are directly related to job duties and can be learned and honed through professional development programs or advanced degree courses like a master’s degree in information systems. Here are some examples of common hard skills in computer science careers.

Coding languages

In many computer science roles, knowledge of common computer languages can be helpful. Even if your job doesn’t involve writing code, understanding it can empower you to troubleshoot problems or identify aspects of a computer system that can be improved.

Different languages have different applications, so knowing which languages your company uses can help narrow down the list of ones to include on your resumé, especially if you are fluent in several of them.

While coding languages differ quite a bit in syntax, philosophy and other structural elements, some programming concepts are virtually universal. Because of that, it doesn’t hurt to mention other languages you’re familiar with. 

Data analysis

Some jobs in computer science may require you to be familiar with how to analyze data. This means knowing how to collect and organize data, and how to form conclusions based on that data.

Data analysis can play an important role in making applications more efficient. It can highlight bottlenecks as well as identify procedural areas in need of improvement. For instance, if the data shows that many users are experiencing similar computer issues while installing an application or signing up for an account, analysis may indicate there is a problem to solve with those processes.

Software development

Along with coding languages, it’s important to express your knowledge of software development. This demonstrates you understand the process of developing a software application, which involves developing big-picture ideas, coding and collaborating with team members cross-functionally.

Your resumé should emphasize what roles you have previously had in software development. With these details, employers can get a clearer understanding of your experience and how it fits in with their needs.

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Technical writing

Often, professionals in computer science must not only perform technical duties. They may need to explain technical issues with processes or software too. This includes what the issue is, how it was found, the impacts of the issue and how to fix it. For this reason, it’s important to have skills in technical writing. IT professionals may find themselves providing documentation for how to perform processes like creating new accounts or connecting machines to a network. Technical writing skills are important so that these concepts are explained clearly and can be performed consistently.

Soft skills in computer science

Soft skills help make a resumé more well rounded, adding to the overall picture that prospective employers see when considering a candidate. The following skills are examples of the types of skills many employers find valuable in IT and beyond.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving is an essential skill for working in computer science and IT. If you have a natural curiosity to learn how to solve a problem, this may be an intriguing field to study and embark upon. It’s important to be able to also explain what problems may be uncovered and how to fix them.

Communication

Communication is important in just about every profession, and computer science jobs are no exception. Because of the work’s technical nature, it helps to be able to explain concepts clearly to people who work outside of IT. This is also true when warning team members of possible security risks.

Even within the technical sphere, good communication is helpful. Computer code is usually used and maintained by a team, for example, so concise documentation and comments within the code can help others quickly understand the program.

It is also vital to be able to explain potential issues to the rest of the team so they can work efficiently.

Time management

Being able to prioritize your time is essential for success in most careers, including computer science. Team members will not only depend on your work to do theirs, but your work could also potentially impact productivity throughout the company.

Within certain fields like software development, this skill is especially vital when quick coding is required. Additionally, there may be times when another team member’s task depends on yours being complete, so recognizing this and prioritizing these jobs is helpful.

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Teamwork

Computer science professionals often work as a team, collaborating on code or orchestrating complex, companywide networks. Hiring managers value employees who can work well as part of a team.

Teamwork involves a variety of interpersonal skills, such as recognizing teammates’ strengths and delegating tasks effectively.

In a role like software development, this could include knowing when and whom to ask for coding advice on a specific branch of code. In a field like IT, this could mean knowing which team members have more experience with an aspect of the company computer system. 

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Eye for detail

Debugging code and troubleshooting computer systems can be difficult. Since so many small and large variables can have a considerable impact, it’s essential to be observant and meticulous. An error as simple as a misplaced decimal point in a code or an improperly configured network can cause significant issues.

While it is useful to be able to debug code by being observant, it is just as helpful to be able to reduce errors while writing code. Writing bug-free code may be virtually impossible, but writing code while being mindful of decisions concerning logic and syntax can help keep major bugs out of the picture.

Computer science and IT programs at University of Phoenix

If you’re interested in pursuing a job in computer information systems, the first step is to learn skills often taught in an information technology degree program or a related field. University of Phoenix offers bachelor’s degrees in the following fields of study. 

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science — This computer science degree teaches you how to apply information technology theory and principles to real-world business challenges. Advanced concepts in math, programming and computer architecture are covered.
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity — This program teaches top skills such as security policies, network security, information systems security and cybersecurity.
  • Bachelor of Science in Data Science — Gain fundamental skills and knowledge needed to analyze, manipulate and process data sets using statistical software. Learn ETL (extract, transform, load) processes for integrating data sets for business intelligence and more.
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology — This program is designed to teach such skills as business process, cybersecurity, information systems, operations and systems analysis.

Learn more about these and other information technology degrees at University of Phoenix!

Portrait of Michael Feder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!

 

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